Tuesday, May 27, 2008

First Daring Bakers Challenge... Pistachio and Rose Opera Cake!!!

Okay dear readers, this is my initial Daring Bakers challenge post. I have one thing to say: don't hold it against me that I have a crappy camera! My photos definitely don't look all artsy and such... maybe one day. Okay so the ladies at Daring Bakers accepted my application
and I got started! The traditional opera cake is made with chocolate and coffee flavors, but since its Spring and all we were challenged to do some Springy flavors. This works for me b/c I don't like chocolate (GASP!). I saw a loooooot of matcha ones... mmmm, no. I love Indian flavors so I decided that I would make a pistachio and rose opera cake! Totally based off two really popular Indian sweets ingredients. I would like to mention that I did have to make a few changes to the recipe, due to my egg yolk allergy. I also reduced the overall sugar of the recipe in each step, b/c I don't like things too sweet. Nothing toooo big though. Here are the changes I made:

Jaconde: Used mostly whites and a little butter for some fat that would be missing from the yolks. Also used pistachios instead of almonds. Reduced the sugar too.
Buttercream: Used my own tried and true Italian Meringue buttercream recipe I perfected last fall! I made a rose syrup with some petals and used rose as the flavor.
Mousse: I made a whipped mousse and didn't use any liquor.
Glaze: Made a rose glaze too.

Here's the recipe via Daring Bakers:

A Taste of Light: Opéra Cake

For the joconde

6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2.Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

For the syrup

½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice

1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the buttercream

1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.)

1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8.At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.
9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

For the white chocolate ganache/mousse

7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)

1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.
6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

For the glaze

14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)

1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Assembling the Opéra Cake
Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.
Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.
Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Here is my pic of the Jaconde in progress. Its a really pretty greeeeen from the pistachios, that's all really. Yum.

Here is my pic of the rose reduction I made. I went to the health food store and got some dried organic roses and then boiled them! I put the resulting "mush" in my french press and strained it that way. Then, back into the pot to really reduce and concentrate the flavor. I then used this liquid to make the sugar mix for my Italian buttercream.

The finished little cake. I assembled it all, the cut out rounds. I think my cutter may be on its last leg b/c it wasn't so good at a clean cut. This is why my PERFECT layers are all wonky... sad face. So it goes:
--pistachio jaconde with syrup--
--rose buttercream--
--pistachio jaconde with syrup--
--rose buttercream--
--pistachio jaconde with syrup--
--rose buttercream--
--pistachio jaconde with syrup--
--white chcolate mousse--
--rose syrup--
--rose garnish--
--Into Tara's mouth!--

Basically, imagine a sugary, diabetic heaven where your two favorite flavors converge and you get eternal ecstasy for being a good baker in your living years. Yeah... that's about it. VERY VERY tasty. It was a lot of effort, but I made this for my step mom for mothers day and she basically said it was the best cake ever! Yay! She said every holiday, bday or any occasion I am to bring this (or my cheesecake, which is pretty good too). I might streamline the process a bit down the road.

<3 Tara


  1. I like how you made your rose reduction. Great job on your first DB post.

  2. Good job on your first challenge..love the flavours.

  3. First challenge and you "ACED" it!! Never have I had rose flavored anything but I love them in the garden and I certainly love pistachios, so I can only imagine!!!!

  4. Fantastic rose reduction! You really got into the spirit on the first go!! congratulations!

  5. I have never had rose buttercream, it sounds interesting and delicious. Thanks for posting how you went about making it. I might have to try it sometime in the future. It sounds like a very very Persian L'opera cake.

  6. I realy enjoyed reading your version of the journey of making this cake! I would like to try the rose reduction because I love the color and it sounds delicious! Welcome aboard!

  7. Great job! Congrats on your first challenge!

  8. Welcome to the Daring Bakers! I love your round opera cakes, great job!

  9. Yum!! I made mine with pistachios, too! exciting. Now I am really excited to try something with pistachio and rose... amazing job!

  10. A great first challenge. I'mIndian so I know that pistachio and rose taste good.:)

  11. I did pistachio and rose too! Yours looks gorgeous- love the rose reduction, what a great idea. Welcome to DB :)

  12. I wan to try and make this. Do I need a french press?

  13. Nope, anything will work! You could use a steel coffee filter or even just a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.

  14. Oh my gosh your Opera Cake looks so cute! I LOVE the pink drizzel! Love the colors and the presentation. So girly! Yay! You go, other Tara! :-)